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Monday Rockpile: Pitching and Catching and Paige, Oh My!

All Things Rockies: Cook discovers inner sinkerballer || Jim Armstrong Cook bounces back in Minors game || Thomas Harding

Both of these articles give us similar news, and good news from the sounds of it. Aaron Cook, who's been absolutely battered this spring, has seemingly gotten a grip on his sinker again, getting the bite, throwing the nasty, at least as far as C Miguel Olivo saw it. Apparently they did't venture from the sinker and slider, and it worked (against Diamondbacks minor leaguers).

Speaking of Olivo and Cook, it seems that Olivo has never really had to experience Bad Cookie, as both of the games he's caught for him have been pretty decent. Harding also brings up something Olivo and Cook worked on together: 70 ft bullpen sessions. The thought behind these sessions is that it will allow Cook to get fully extended, rather than shorten up, like some pitchers do during remedial drills. Cook wants to really stretch it out, throw it through Olivo, get his arm real loose tonight, throw a hand in the air if he's feeling alright, he don't care if you stare cause his sinker is tight, put the catcher back there so he can do this right.

The last little nugget from both articles comes from an unexpected source: Jason Giambi. Yes, Jason Giambi is apparently advising our pitchers as well. Giambi basically told Cook that when you play your career with fluctuating weights, you're gonna have to re-find your timing quite regularly, as your body is "firing" at different points. Man, Giambi is just advising everybody. If he fixes Cook, too, man this guy will be worth every dime.


Denver Post: Rockies aim to be running on the basepaths || Jim Armstrong

Citing yesterday's bizarre game of 3 SB, a suicide squeeze, 2 runners thrown out at home, stretched doubles, everything, it apparently tells us that the Rockies are going to be scrambling all over the basepaths this season. I don't know how to feel about that, honestly. Carlos Gonzalez (who is cited as a leadoff manfffFFFFFFF), Dexter Fowler, Clint Barmes? Yeah, I want to see those guys all over the diamond. But Ian Stewart? Chris Iannetta? Yeah let's keep them station-to-station as the situation demands. I don't want to see Stewart caught in even more failed Hit-and-Runs this season and then get benched or something like that.

Armstrong also cites some other quick nuggets, including Justin Speier helping his case for making the 25-man (wooo Justin!), Betancourt saying "hey I'm doing OK" and Matt Reynolds also being a candidate to stick with the club. Justin Speier for the 25-man!


Denver Post: Paige: 99 wins, not tears, for these Rockies || Woody Paige

I seriously thought this was going to be a Jay-Z joke when I read the headline.

Woody Paige falls into the trap that oh-so-many people fall into this time of season: he declares the team will mash purely based on Spring Training. That they'll wreck the basepaths based on Spring Training. That we'll win based on Spring Training.

Oh, Woody.

But he does cite a couple of important things, mainly the fact that the team knows who will be the starter, bringing us back to opening day 2009 where Barmes, the starting 2B, was benched for Stewart, and that fact, that continuity will drive this team to succeed.

Other nuggets:

  • Our 1B has been nicknamed Toddy Ballgame.
  • Jason Giambi is apparently Russell Crowe.
  • Suggesting that the rotation repeats last year's success is unreasonable, but Ubaldo winning 20 and Francis winning 12-14 in 2010 isn't. (wasn't this the same rotation he's tried to shred in the past?)
  • Manny Corpas will be sent to the Springs.
  • This:

    Surprise. Something very special.

    For 17 consecutive years, I've correctly predicted that the Rockies would not finish first in the National League West. For the 18th season, I'm predicting that the Rockies finally will finish first and win a team-record 99 games.

Yes, it's cheesy, yes, it's kind of short sighted, yes, it's one of those articles written for those just tuning in and not us who've been watching but... sigh. Ok guys, scoot over, make some room on the wagon for Woody. I guess I'd rather have him here and rooting than running around elsewhere trying to tell us something that just is flat out wrong.


Lots more after the jump, so stay tuned during this message from our sponsor, Ovaltine!


Denver Post: Rockies' Hammel works with more confidence in 2010 || Jim Armstrong

Nice little piece about our boy Jason, citing his spot in the rotation, his strong spring thus far, and they talk a bit about his curveball and how good it is. He feels great. Well, Jason, as Journey said, "HOLD ON TO THAT FEEEHEELINGGGG!!!"


Hardball in the Rockies: Sunday's game: Another look at Justin Speier || Thomas Harding

Harding leads us off with a bit of a rundown on Justin Speier (yaaaay Justin), as well as Matt Reynolds, and touches on the injury bug that seems to be rampaging through the bullpen.


Hardball in the Rockies: No plans to leave Francis behind || Thomas Harding 

Not sure how I feel about this one. The team feels confident enough in Jeff Francis to say that unless he completely falls off of a cliff in the next 2 weeks, he'll be in the opening day rotation. The upside is that the team sees him as being that far along, that healthy, etc. The downside is that if he shows himself to NOT be completely ready, how long of a leash does pride offer him? I'm still for him pitching extended ST and giving Greg Smith a shot at it.


Inside the Rockies: Helton, Giambi get at-bats as dual DHs || Jack Etkin

What we learn here is that Helton isn't entirely up to speed, and isn't as far along this spring as in years past. But he feels like a slow start will leave more in the tank for September. I love the idea of Helton and Giambi just kind of being veterans together, as if Helton's never been able to relish being the team's veteran because it's always been rookies and young players running around and he's just like "damn kids and your rock music get off of my 1B" and had that distinct "veteran team leader" smell that just makes your skin crawl...ok maybe that went overboard there. But Jack Etkin poses the two of them working together in such interesting prose:

Seeing heart-of-the-order hitters like Helton and Giambi on a back field - covered benches but no dugouts, a small set of bleachers six rows high behind home plate - is akin to coming upon a Monet painting at a garage sale. 

That back field that Etkin describes? That's jrockies territory right there.


Inside the Rockies: Hawpe gets some time at 1B || Jack Etkin

Etkin gives a glowing review of Hawpe's impromptu game at 1B vs the same Dbacks minor leaguers that apparently everybody who needed something special was playing in. While everyone watching his play at 1B was like "whoah!" Hawpe was like "whoah" and then Tracy was like "whoah".

Finally, our last news clip, as seems to be my style, isn't about our team, but is still baseball news.


ESPN: Joe Mauer gets to stay at home || Jayson Stark

Signing an 8-year, $184M contract that includes a full no-trade clause, Joe Mauer has been established as the franchise player for the Minnesota Twins. This is the largest contract ever signed by a catcher, the largest contract ever signed by a Twin, and the 3rd largest contract ever signed in baseball history. Well, technically 4th, but we're rolling both of Alex Rodriguez' contracts into one giant ugly one.

Yeah, it's probably too much money, yeah, it's probably too long, yeah, there's always risks involved, but this was the right move for the Twins. Not just because Joe Mauer is the best, not just because he's the perfect Minnesota boy, but because it's good for baseball. 2 reasons why: 1. Now we don't have to deal with the complete backlash of the 8 year, $195M contract he would get from the Yankees, and 2. Draw the analogue - can you imagine Todd Helton playing anywhere else than Colorado? Well, Mauer is a far better fit for Minnesota than Helton is for Colorado. That means something.

Kudos, Twins fans.